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Your favorite origin story of a dish? My example: Cantonese dry fried beef chow fun and E-fu noodles

K K | Oct 15, 200903:08 PM

There's always a killer dish all over the world, and it doesn't have to be gourmet. But it is old school enough that it carries a lot of history, as well as their stories of how they came to being. Some might be fact, folklore, or modified truths and myths as the generations have passed.

Recently I was reading up on how a famous Cantonese Chinese dish, dried fried beef chow fun, specifically its humble beginnings. To copy and paste a thread where I posted:

"it is said that the dried fried version of beef chow fun originated during WWII era, Canton province around 1938. A man named Mr Hui, who originally was from Canton/Guangzhou, went northward to Hunan and became a chef. During the war, he was forced to retreat south back home as the Japanese slowly invaded southward, and ended up working at a vendor stall (open by his brother) to sell food. Canton province was eventually taken over by the Japanese in 1938.

One night, Mr Hui's food stall ran out of the powder (like a cornstarch thickening agent) for sauces. A military patrolling unit division commander was hungry and wanted to have his wet chow fun. Due to a curfew and ban on late night business activity, the brother was unable to go purchase the powder. They had to tell the commander they couldn't make it. It is also said the commander was so mad he was about to take out his gun and kill someone. Mr Hui's mom and brother immediately went to make some tong yuen (sticky rice dessert dumplings) and Mr Hui himself tended to the kitchen. It was there that he thought about doing it dry stir fried style, and thus the stall (and his family) were sparred from the bullet. Apparently Hui's stall became Guangzhou's first ever location to offer dry fried beef chow fun and became famous for it."

And the story of how Cantonese e-fu noodles came into being seemed a bit more hilarious. There's a folklore about a servant who was delivering fresh noodles to a high ranking official's house (whose last name begins with Yi, which sounds like E) and he was running late. He tripped over a rock and the fresh noodles fell into a puddle of mud. Freaking out, he washed away the mud and decided to deep fry the noodles and dry them out. By the time the noodles were delivered, the chef cooked them up (refried them, hahaha) and next thing you know Mr Yi sang mondo praises, and thus the E-Fu noodles were born.

So what's your favorite folklore and what is the dish?

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